Xavier Falls to Top-Seeded Ohio State in Overtime in NCAA Tournament
March 17, 2007
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Ohio State's Ron Lewis drilled a 25-foot three to send the game into overtime and Xavier could not overcome a quick 7-2 spurt in the extra session as the ninth-seeded Musketeers fell to top-seeded Ohio State, 78-71, at Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon. Senior Justin Cage finished with a career-high 25 points to lead the Blue and White. Cage would also set career marks with an 8-for-8 mark from the floor and 3-for-3 behind the arc.
Xavier started the game slow as the ninth-seeded Musketeers only connected on 29 percent of their shots before the first media timeout. OSU was a little better with a 43 percent mark. Ohio State's Ron Lewis had five of the Buckeye's first seven points in the stretch.
Johnny Wolf would give the Musketeers their first lead since the opening basket as the junior nailed a running jumper as the shot clock was winding down. The bucket gave XU the 10-9 advantage with 10:22 remaining in the first and also gave Wolf his first points since the Richmond game.
After a Justin Cage free throw tied the game at 13-13, back to back three-pointers by OSU's Jamar Butler gave the Buckeyes their largest lead at 19-13 with 6:58 remaining.
Justin Doellman would score his first two points of the game with 5:04 remaining in the half and break a 4:01 scoring drought by the Blue and White to put the score at 19-15 in favor of Ohio State.
Josh Duncan would notch the last six points of the half for Xavier as the junior stepped back to drill two threes to cut the OSU lead to just one, 23-22, with 2:32 remaining. He would knock down his second with 46 seconds left in the half to bring the score within two, 27-25, before a last second runner by Mike Conley dropped at the horn.
Ohio State would close out the first half by scoring six of the last nine points to extend its lead to 29-25 going into the locker room.
The Musketeers were out-rebounded in the half by a 23-13 margin in the first half, including 7-1 on the offensive glass, but a tough XU defense held the Buckeyes to only four second chance points. XU, the second-best free throw shooting team in the A-10, also struggled at the free throw line. Xavier only converted on 3-of-6 (50 percent) attempts and also could not find the range from deep with a 2-for-9 (22.2 percent) mark at the break.
In the second half, Doellman would score the first seven points of the half and give Xavier its first lead since 9:04 remaining in the first. The lead would also be the largest since the Musketeers were ahead 2-0 after the first basket of the game.
Ohio State would charge back and reclaim the lead, 33-32, after a Butler layup. Cage, as he did all afternoon, would answer with his first three pointer of the day and give XU the 35-33 advantage with 16:24 on the clock.
With the crowd into the game Xavier would make its largest run of the day and take an eight-point advantage with 9:05 remaining. Duncan and Cage would help Xavier spark a 10-0 run to claim the largest lead of the afternoon. Duncan drilled a three and a jumper with the shot clock winding down, while Cage knocked down a three along with a layup.
The run would continue after a quick three by OSU's Lewis to cut the lead back to five. Cage and Drew Lavender would answer with their own threes and claim the first double-digit lead for either team. With 7:19 remaining, the Musketeers grabbed an 11-point lead after the Lavender trey.
Xavier would continue to cling to the lead throughout the remainder of the game as XU kept answering each Buckeye comeback attempt. OSU would cut it to seven on three occasions but quick responses by Cage and Stanley Burrell kept the advantage at nine until 2:54 left in the contest.
The Buckeyes would fight back with a quick 8-0 run over the next 1:18 to climb within one, 59-58, with 1:36 remaining. Two free throws by Cage would push the Xavier lead back to three, 61-58, with 1:14 left. After one free throw by Greg Oden, Cage would only connect on 1-of-2 to keep the XU lead at three, 62-59, with only 11 second left. That left just enough time for Ron Lewis to take a handoff from Mike Conley and square up from 25 feet and drill a three to send the game into overtime.
In the extra session, Ohio State's Conley took over and scored the top-seeded Buckeye's first seven points and 11 of their 16 points in the overtime.
This was only the fourth meeting between the two schools. The last meeting between the Musketeers and the Buckeyes also came in the postseason as the two squared off in the 1984 NIT. Xavier took that game in overtime, 60-57. Ohio State now holds a 3-1 edge in the series.
Xavier finishes the season 25-9.